SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

And the arms race continues...
Navy pitches in for Russian Amur submarine
Mumbai, January 24
The Indian defence establishment is hopeful of an agreement with the Russian government to build Amur-class of attack submarines in India during the visit of that country’s leader Vladimir Putin.
China building micro, nano satellite capability
New Delhi, January 24
The January 11 anti-satellite test by China using a surface-to-air missile to destroy an aging satellite in space is only one aspect of Beijing's threat to the freedom of space.

PATRIOTISM knows no AGE

A child sells national flags at a roadside shop prior to Republic Day in Patna on Wednesday. A child sells national flags at a roadside shop prior to Republic Day in Patna on Wednesday.
— PTI

Situation tense in violence-hit Assam
Guwahati, January 24
A major disaster was averted with the police recovering a powerful bomb at the Basugaon railway station in Kokrajhar district of western Assam this morning.








EARLIER STORIES




Congress president Sonia Gandhi poses for a photograph with winners of the National Bravery Award 2006 after the presentation of the awards by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi poses for a photograph with winners of the National Bravery Award 2006 after the presentation of the awards by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI

Lalu stalling Central schemes: Nitish
Patna, January 24
Nitish Kumar-led NDA government was planning to lodge a complaint with the PMO against the Union Railways Minister Lalu Prasad for causing hindrance in the implementation of Central schemes in Bihar.

Cong wants to shed dependence on allies
New Delhi, January 24
Encouraged by the latest surveys showing the Congress to be ahead of its political opponents, the ruling party is now looking hopefully at a future where it will be able to shed its dependence on allies and come to power on its own.

Doing one’s work silently, honestly is bravery: PM
New Delhi, January 24
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today exhorted children to show bravery and valour by inculcating honesty, moral values, in their lives and said this would help in improving the society at large.

Jasdev Singh’s voice to boom again on R-Day
New Delhi, January 24
The booming voice of ace commentator Jasdev Singh will once again be on the airwaves as he is all set to make a live commentary on Doordarshan of this year’s Republic Day celebrations on the majestic Rajpath.

New tunes at the Beating Retreat
New Delhi, January 24
A whole new set of tunes will regale the audience at the Beating the Retreat ceremony of the Armed Forces on Monday that brings curtains down on the Republic Day celebrations.

Raj fields kin of Thackeray assailant
Mumbai, January 24
Bal Thackeray’s estranged nephew Raj Thackeray who broke away to form his own Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has landed in the middle of a controversy by fielding the brother of a man who planned to kill the Shiv Sena supremo.

Convicts pardoned by Chautala made party to PIL
New Delhi, January 24
Taking a serious view of the previous Om Prakash Chautala Government granting pardon to 11 convicts serving life sentence in murder and attempt to murder cases, the Supreme Court today made all of them party to twin petitions challenging the Governor’s order on “premature” remission of their punishment.

44,476 children go missing every year
New Delhi, January 24
The disappearance and killing of children in Nithari village is appalling to say the least but the hard fact is that 44,476 children go missing every year in India.

Make Surya Namaskar voluntary, HC tells MP Govt
Jabalpur, January 24
Amid a raging controversy over the Madhya Pradesh Government’s decision to organise surya namaskar and pranayam programme in schools tomorrow, the state High Court today ordered that the participation in it should be voluntary.

Khushboo surrenders in court
Chennai, January 24
Actress Khushboo today surrendered before a magistrate’s court and furnished sureties in compliance with a Madras High Court order, granting her anticipatory bail in a cheating case.

HIV-positive couple welcomes CM into their midst
Bagalkot (Karnataka), January 24
At Ingalgi village in this district last night 26-year-old Rudraiah Mathapathi and his wife Shobha (20) were happily overseeing the cooking in their three-room newly whitewashed stone-walled tiled house.

Gender gap in jobs growing in S. Asia
New Delhi, January 24
The number of people unemployed worldwide remained very high in 2006 despite strong global economic growth, the International Labour Office (ILO) said in its annual Global Employment Trends released today.

Jinnah house to showcase culture
Mumbai, January 24
The Central Government has finally decided on the fate of the sprawling Jinnah House in Mumbai's plush Malabar Hill neighbourhood by deciding not to hand it over to the Pakistan government.

Mirage 2000 crashes in MP
Morena (MP), January 24
A Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force, believed to be on a routine sortie, crashed at Baragaon, nearly 60 km from here, tonight, the police said.


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And the arms race continues...
Navy pitches in for Russian Amur submarine
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 24
The Indian defence establishment is hopeful of an agreement with the Russian government to build Amur-class of attack submarines in India during the visit of that country’s leader Vladimir Putin.

The Indian Navy plans to build several of these submarines at Mumbai’s Mazgaon Docks Ltd (MDL). The Amur submarine is meant to complement the Scorpene submarines that are currently being built by the MDL in collaboration with the French.

The Amur-class attack submarines will be fitted with the BrahMos missile which has been developed jointly by India’s Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Russian Mashinostroyenia.

BrahMos has a range of about 300 km and is capable of destroying enemy ships. A number of Indian destroyers, including the new Talwar-class frigates from Russia and the three Delhi-class destroyers and Godavari-class frigates, will be fitted with the BrahMos.

According to reports, the Amur-class submarines will have a 2000-ton displacement, a beam-to-length ratio of 1:7, a length of 67 metres, a beam of 7.2 metres, a maximum speed of 21 knots submerged and 10 knots surfaced, a crew of 30 to 34 personnel and an endurance of 45 days.

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China building micro, nano satellite capability
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 24
The January 11 anti-satellite test by China using a surface-to-air missile to destroy an aging satellite in space is only one aspect of Beijing's threat to the freedom of space.

The emphasis is actually on micro satellite and nano satellite capability-their satellites are between 50 kg and 10 kg. These are medium to low orbit satellites, which can be set in orbit in clusters and be weaponised. These satellites are both anti-satellite weapons and military reconnaissance bodies.

Micro and nano satellites can be used as platform for space-based weapons like laser weapons. These satellites can also be guided to the proximity of enemy satellites and exploded to destroy the target. The advantage is that these satellites are inexpensive and easy to maneuver. China's space scientists have been concentrating on militarisation of space, especially anti-satellite warfare, in recent years.

What needs to be noted about the January 11 test is not China's technological capability to conduct such a test, but its political decision to do so at this point of time. Both the United States and the erstwhile Soviet Union demonstrated their anti-satellite capabilities in the mid-1980s, but withdrew from further developing this technology for good reasons.

China's nuclear doctrine has been that of an aggrieved party, protector of the Third World with its nuclear arsenal. Hence, while it advocates a nuclear weapons free world, it would continue to elevate its nuclear capabilities till the other four nuclear powers brought down their arsenal to China's level and then, together, eliminate nuclear weapons. Beijing, in fact, kept its nuclear modernisation door wide open and working.

China appears to be entering space warfare or, to start with, anti-satellite warfare for just the opposite reason. There appears to be a threat to disconnect the world at will.

Chinese official spokespersons both in Beijing and Washington have declined to comment on the January 11 satellite destruction, but there was no categorical denial. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao's comment of the issue is most interesting. Liu said, "China will not participate in any kind of arms race in outer space".

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Situation tense in violence-hit Assam

Guwahati, January 24
A major disaster was averted with the police recovering a powerful bomb at the Basugaon railway station in Kokrajhar district of western Assam this morning.

An Army bomb disposal squad defused the explosive at around 6.30 pm.

The banned ULFA militants triggered an explosion at a bridge in Pakharijan of upper Assam’s Tinsukia district, but none was injured in the blast.

The overall situation in the blast-rattled state, however, remained tense.

Meanwhile, the Assam Government today ordered a judicial probe into the ‘’killing’’ of three youths by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel at Geleki in Sivasagar district late last night.

The youths were mistaken for ULFA cadres by a CISF patrol party.

Two of the youths, Dul Gogoi and Butun Gogoi, died on the spot, while the third, identified as Arup Saikia, succumbed to injuries at the Assam Medical College and Hospital, Dibrugarh.

Official sources said here a patrol party of the CISF had opened fire on the three youths at Geleki, suspecting them to be members of the banned ULFA. But later it was established that the youths were not associated with the outfit.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, heading the Unified Command structure, expressed concern over the killings of the three youths and promised to punish the guilty.

He also announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the next of kin of each of the slain youths and promised to take steps for rehabilitation of their family members.

Meanwhile, Congress members were reported to be quitting the party en masse in upper Assam, especially Tinsukhia district, following the ULFA’s diktat to the Congress workers to leave or face its wrath.

However, Congress state headquarters here was yet to confirm the reports. — UNI

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Bomb alerts

Guwahati, January 24
Several bomb alerts were sounded across Guwahati today, affecting life in many areas with security forces taking up positions and enforcing traffic restrictions.

However, most of these alarms proved ''ill-founded''.

The police was still pressed at work in various areas to probe the threats, affecting normal life.

The district administration has also instructed business establishments to shut down as even the enhanced security network has failed to check blasts being triggered during the past weeks.

The Serapbhatti area of the city was sealed for over two hours this morning following a bomb scare.

The area near the MLA hostel in Dispur-Supermarket was also cordoned off for several hours in the afternoon following reports of explosives planted near a specialty hospital in the locality.

The area is a short distance away from Ganeshguri, rocked by two blasts in the past two weeks in which three persons were killed and many injured.

Yesterday's blast in Adabadri area of the city was triggered by explosives kept in an unclaimed bag. Eyewitnesses said the explosion occurred when an alert shopkeeper tried to dispose of the unclaimed bag. — UNI

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Lalu stalling Central schemes: Nitish
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 24
Nitish Kumar-led NDA government was planning to lodge a complaint with the PMO against the Union Railways Minister Lalu Prasad for causing hindrance in the implementation of Central schemes in Bihar.

Sources in the government disclosed that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was unhappy with the way the RJD ministers in Central Cabinet, led by Mr Lalu Prasad, were playing cheap politics to stall the work of Centre-sponsored schemes in the state only to defame the NDA government.

Mr Kumar was particularly irritated over the prolonged delay in the approval of National Highways Development Programme (NHDP) Phase-3 and also execution of work with regard to state highways by Central agencies under Sam Vikas Yojna.

At a recent meeting with some of his Cabinet colleagues and senior officials Mr Kumar was reported to have reacted stating that he believed that under the RJD pressure certain developmental works had been held up and schemes kept in limbo.

Sources further disclosed that Mr Kumar had aired such views before the Chairman of the special task force for Bihar at Centre, Mr.S.C.Jha, too, during the latter’s recent visit to the state in connection with the global conclave held last week.

Senior BJP leader Kiran Ghai had also alleged that the NDA got no help from the Union RJD ministers and said they only tried to delay Centrally-sponsored schemes.

The BJP has already decided to launch a statewide ‘jagaran’ yatra to expose the non-cooperation of Central ministers from Bihar to erode the efforts by the Nitish government to rebuild the state.

Sources said that Mr Kumar had already made up his mind to meet Central leaders, including the Prime Minister with regard to delay in road projects in the state in particular.

Besides, Mr Kumar has asked DGP A.K. Sinha to increase security cover at various road construction projects in the state to protect the contractors and engineers working there against threats from criminal gangs (road mafias) demanding extortion.

Subsequently, the DGP has sent letters to all DMs, SPs, range DIGs, zonal IGs and Divisional Commissioners directing them to provide protection to the workers and officials engaged in the road construction work.

Mr Kumar’s tough stand against road mafias was in context of the recent killing of two technicians, who were working for NH-31 project at Madhepura.The contractor there had refused to pay ransom to the road mafias.

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Cong wants to shed dependence on allies
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 24
Encouraged by the latest surveys showing the Congress to be ahead of its political opponents, the ruling party is now looking hopefully at a future where it will be able to shed its dependence on allies and come to power on its own.

“Coalitions cannot be a permanent arrangement,” Mr Janardan Dwivedi, AICC media department chairperson, told mediapersons today.

Reiterating that coalitions could, at best, be an interim arrangement, Mr Dwivedi maintained that the Congress would strive to form a government at the Centre on its own. “This is only natural for a national party like the Congress to think of coming to power on its own,” he explained while rejecting any suggestion about the possibility of a mid-term poll.

Mr Dwivedi made these comments in response to queries on the findings of a CNN-IBN-CSDS-Hindustan Times survey on the “State of the Nation” which has projected 300 seats for the UPA in case of an immediate General Election. For the record, Mr Dwivedi maintained that they were unaffected by such surveys and that political parties took decisions on the basis of their independent assessments.

Mr Dwivedi’s views echo that of a large section of Congress leaders, who believe that coalitions are not allowing the party to expand its base and would prefer a post-poll alliance to a pre-poll arrangement. On the contrary, they believe, the Congress has ended up becoming a junior partner of regional parties like the RJD in Bihar and the DMK in Tamil Nadu, which has stunted the party’s growth. General secretary of the AICC Digvijay Singh has even gone on record to say that the Congress must contest all Lok Sabha seats in order to enthuse its cadres.

This is the first time that the Congress is running a coalition government and the strain of managing disparate partners is clearly telling on the party’s managers.

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Doing one’s work silently, honestly is bravery: PM

New Delhi, January 24
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today exhorted children to show bravery and valour by inculcating honesty, moral values, in their lives and said this would help in improving the society at large.

Presenting the National Awards for Bravery 2006 to 24 children, the Prime Minister lauded the children for showing exemplary courage and bravery which has won the hearts of people of the country.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi’s saying that bravery is not in the body but in the heart, soul and mind, Dr Singh said bravery was of many kind which include fighting superstitions and social evils.

“The amount of bravery required for fire fighting, catching thief and saving drowning people is same as that required for taking forward the moral principles in lives.

Leading an ordinary, simple and principled life in today’s world is also a brave act. Doing ones work silently and honestly is also brave,” he said.

He told the bravehearts that they would face many challenges later in their lives and to face them they would be required to exhibit same kind of courage and bravery for which they are being awarded today.

Pointing out that honesty, morality and hard work was the base for courage and bravery, he said all-these qualities are to build a better society.

The Prime Minister hoped that the national bravery awards would inspire children to do service to the nation.

He said children had played a crucial role in the national struggle for freedom. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had made a ‘Wanar Sena’ which was aimed at making children a part of the freedom struggle. — UNI

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Jasdev Singh’s voice to boom again on R-Day

New Delhi, January 24
The booming voice of ace commentator Jasdev Singh will once again be on the airwaves as he is all set to make a live commentary on Doordarshan of this year’s Republic Day celebrations on the majestic Rajpath.

An important signature in the field of sports commentary, Padma Shree awardee Jasdev Singh has the unique distinction of doing commentary of Independence Day functions at the Red Fort for 43 years.

In addition, he had made the commentaries of Olympic Games (nine times), Asian Games (six times), World Cup Hockey (eight times), a number of cricket matches and over 250 documentaries.

He has also the distinction of make a live commentary when Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian to soar into space along with Russian cosmonauts.

Imbued with patriotic zeal, Jasdev Singh becomes a livewire while wielding a microphone.

“And the good thing is his voice has not lost its booming quality and resonance despite his age. His voice still fascinates the listeners,’’ said an official of the Rajasthan Government.

Jasdev Singh, who now lives in Rajasthan, is currently in the capital for the Republic Day parade rehearsal. — UNI

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New tunes at the Beating Retreat

New Delhi, January 24
A whole new set of tunes will regale the audience at the Beating the Retreat ceremony of the Armed Forces on Monday that brings curtains down on the Republic Day celebrations.

As the sun sets on the Raisina Hill on Monday, a total of 35 bands from the three services will play tunes drawn from across the country, including some folk tunes that showcase the diversity of the country’s culture.

“All the tunes, except one, are composed by Indians,” General Officer in Commanding, Delhi Area, P.C. Bhardwaj told reporters here.

A highlight of the hour-long ceremony will be the Gorkha song “Herana, Herana Kancha” (Listen, O’ Listen Kancha) set to tune by Hony Lt Jaman Singh and performed by the 15 Massed Army Pipes and Drums Bands.

The Gorkha song and “Veer Bharat”, both quick march tunes, will be followed by a slow march tune “Aj Diya Rati” composed by Subedar Dina Nath of the Dogra 
Regiment.

Besides the folk tunes, the military bands plan to bring the evening to life with scintillating performances of patriotic songs “Saare Jahan Se Achha” and “Kadam, Kadam Badhaye Ja” and the eternally enchanting hymn “Abide with me” which was a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi.

To begin with, the fanfare to announce the arrival of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam will be sounded by trumpeters and buglers placed strategically at the north and south blocks and the Vayu and Rail Bhavan.

This will be followed by playing the tune of the National Anthem and a tune “Hindustan Hamara Hai” composed by S.E. Hills by 18 Massed military bands — 10 from the army and four each from the Navy and the Air Force. — PTI 

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Raj fields kin of Thackeray assailant
Tribune New Service

Mumbai, January 24
Bal Thackeray’s estranged nephew Raj Thackeray who broke away to form his own Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has landed in the middle of a controversy by fielding the brother of a man who planned to kill the Shiv Sena supremo.

The MNS has fielded Jitendra Igwe whose brother Rajesh was recruited by the Dawood Ibrahim gang to kill Bal Thackeray following the 1992-93 riots. Rajesh was a crooked constable in the Mumbai police who helped train the shooters of the Dawood Ibrahim gang. He was sacked after his underworld links came to light.

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Convicts pardoned by Chautala made party to PIL
S S Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 24
Taking a serious view of the previous Om Prakash Chautala Government granting pardon to 11 convicts serving life sentence in murder and attempt to murder cases, the Supreme Court today made all of them party to twin petitions challenging the Governor’s order on “premature” remission of their punishment.

Six of the convicts, who had been granted pardon, had not even completed five years’ sentence and two were left of after serving only seven and ten months jail-term by the Chautala government between 1999 and 2001.

A Bench of Mr Justice H K Sema and Mr Justice B Sudershan Reddy issued the direction for making them party to the case, after perusing the voluminous records about them, submitted by the authorities from different prisons in the state.

Satbir Singh and Himmat Singh, among the released accused, were convicted of attempt to murder, Mithu Singh, Shriyansh Jain, Sarvjit Singh, Satish Kumar, Jagtar Singh, Sat Prakash, Karnail Singh, Nirmal Singh and Ram Nath Bhumla.

The twin PILs filed by Anil Sharma and the Society for Human Rights and Civil Liberties through its lawyer Ramesh Kumar Haritesh had sought quashing of the Governor’s order, allegedly made on the basis of “frivolous” grounds for release by the INLD government.

According to the petitioners, all released convicts were either supporters of the INLD, or its sympathisers. They also claimed that the procedure laid down under the law for processing the cases of remission, was not followed in these cases.

The court directed Sharma and Haritesh to prepare a detailed list of the charges, date of conviction, passing of the order of remission and their final release from jail by filtering the information from jail records and submit it within four weeks to ensure that the matter was listed for final arguments.

Of the released convicts, Shriyansh Jain and Ram Nath Bhumla were granted remission just after seven and 10 months’ jail, respectively, while Sat Prakash, Satbir Singh, Himmat Singh and Nirmal Singh were let off after serving a jail term ranging between two years to five years. The others had served over 10 years of sentence.

The court also took into account the withdrawal of cases of serious crimes against 17 other accused facing trial in different courts in the state, raised in the petitions.

The court in its July 19, 2005 order had sought complete jail records of these convicts with information about the reasons set out in the remission order for granting them pardon and the material that formed the basis for such opinion by the then Haryana Government.

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44,476 children go missing every year
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 24
The disappearance and killing of children in Nithari village is appalling to say the least but the hard fact is that 44,476 children go missing every year in India.

Initiating a long overdue debate on ‘Missing Children in India’ here today, Centre for Social Research Director Dr Ranjana Kumari said there was no authentic source of finding out the actual scenario on missing children in India. No exact figure is available on the number of runaway children either.

Ranjana Kumari said there was no separate classification of offences against children in reports compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

“The offences included in the reports have been culled from various reported crimes in the country where the victims of the offences were children,” she said.

She added that 11,008 children remain untraced every year. Sharing the findings of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on missing children, the CSR Director said in most states, the percentage of untraced persons is increasing as the efficiency in locating missing persons has diminished.

She said the situation on the number of untraced children is quite grim in metropolitan cities. The gravity of the problem can be gauged from the fact that Childline, a government helpline launched in 1998-99 has so far received more than 66 lakh calls since its inception. Eleven per cent of the calls received in the helpline were for missing children.

Participating in the consultation, Razia Ismail Abbasi, co-convener of the India Alliance for Child Rights, said in India, children have equal rights only on paper, not in reality.

Abbasi said the Nithari killings provide grim evidence of the sickness in the system. “Sixty years after Independence, 57 years after becoming a republic, 33 years after adopting a visionary National Policy for Children, 28 years after moving the United Nations and the international community to declare and observe an International Year of the Child and 15 years after accepting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, how can this be happening?” she asked.

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Make Surya Namaskar voluntary, HC tells MP Govt

Jabalpur, January 24
Amid a raging controversy over the Madhya Pradesh Government’s decision to organise surya namaskar and pranayam programme in schools tomorrow, the state High Court today ordered that the participation in it should be voluntary.

No individual or institution should be forced to take part in the programme, a Division Bench of Chief Justice A.K. Patnayak and Justice R.S. Jha said in an interim order on petitions filed by some Muslim organisations against the state government’s decision.

It said the programme should be attended only by those who want to participate in it voluntarily.

The Bench issued notice to the state government to reply within four weeks on petitioners’ contention that the programme was aimed at saffronisation and would hurt religious sentiments of minority communities.

Arguing on behalf of petitioners — Jamiat Ulma Hind and Bharatiya Muslim Sangh — their counsel contended that recital of certain “mantras” during the programme would hurt the religious feelings of members belonging to minority communities.

Terming the programme as against the spirit of the Constitution, the petitioners alleged that it was aimed at promoting saffron ideology and said such activities should not be carried out by the government.

Appearing on behalf of the government, Advocate-General Rabinandan Singh maintained that the circular issued on January 18 had already made it clear that the Surya Namaskar programme would be voluntary and not mandatory. — PTI 

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Khushboo surrenders in court

Chennai, January 24
Actress Khushboo today surrendered before a magistrate’s court and furnished sureties in compliance with a Madras High Court order, granting her anticipatory bail in a cheating case.

As directed by the High Court while granting her anticipatory bail on January 10, the Kollywood actress, also a television star, appeared before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate accompanied by her lawyers and complied with HC conditions.

She executed a personal for bond Rs 10,000 and two sureties each for a likesum to the satisfaction of Magistrate Jaganathan.

Khushboo apprehended arrest in a cheating complaint filed by T.M. Varkey, the US-based father-in-law of her brother Abdullah Khan. — UNI

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HIV-positive couple welcomes CM into their midst
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bagalkot (Karnataka), January 24
At Ingalgi village in this district last night 26-year-old Rudraiah Mathapathi and his wife Shobha (20) were happily overseeing the cooking in their three-room newly whitewashed stone-walled tiled house. Rudraiah’s parents were sitting with their family ‘guru’ with the couple’s 14-month child in the room strung with pictures of gods and goddesses and even that of a young Boramma, Rudraiah’s mother. The third room was shut tight for the moment, waiting to be opened for a special guest.

The guest, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, arrived a little past midnight, to sleep with the Mathapathi family in a bid to break the stigma associated with HIV positive persons in an area where the devdasi tradition and a variety of other factors has destroyed families and also created fissures in the community.

The villagers of Ingalgi were rejoicing last night and welcomed the Chief Minister with gusto. Basavraj Kori, president of the Health Committee of the village, put it succinctly, saying the CM’s visit was set to stem the tide against the dreaded disease as well as usher in due dignity and respect for HIV positive people in the community.

This is because Ingalgi, which even now has the maximum number of around 100 HIV positive cases in a single village in the state, has successfully implemented an HIV prevention and care intervention for the last four years under the leadership of the University of Manitoba and the ICHAP.

Meanwhile, Rudhraiah’s father garlanded Kumaraswamy as he crossed the threshold into the house and his room to sleep on a mattress on a slate-tiled traditional floor. The HIV positive couple and as well as his parents, who were clearly overwhelmed by the CM’s gesture and had been waiting for hours to have dinner with him, did not speak to the visiting media. All Boramma would say was: “We don’t want to look back and are only concerned about the future and how my children and my grandchild can be saved”.

This apparently is also the concern of Manitoba and the ICHAP team with experts disclosing that appropriate drugs had been given to both the mother and child. The child, who is 14 months’ old, can only be tested after another two months. “We are hoping he will test negative for HIV”, says a volunteer. Earlier, it was Shobha who had discovered that she was HIV positive due to the promiscuous behaviour of her husband, an agricultural labourer, when she went to a hospital because she could not conceive. Doctors tested her husband and subsequently advised them that they could also have a HIV negative child, who is clearly likely to be their mainstay in life.

A pensive Chief Minister after his night halt with the Mathapathi family was clearly convinced more needs to be done for HIV positive people. He said the government would initiate a micro-credit scheme to empower them socially. He said steps would also be taken to discourage the devdasi system under which devdasis dedicated to Goddess Yellamma were practically working as sex workers. He said appropriate help would also be extended to devdasis to encourage them to end the tradition including building 15,000 houses for them and also extending a Rs 15,000 loan to them which would be accompanied by a subsidy quotient of Rs 10,000.

After the CM’s path-breaking visit to a HIV positive house, the government itself is also moving to take a State wide initiative on this issue. State Health Minister R. Ashok disclosed that the government was considering a proposal to make pre-marital HIV tests mandatory.

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Gender gap in jobs growing in S. Asia
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 24
The number of people unemployed worldwide remained very high in 2006 despite strong global economic growth, the International Labour Office (ILO) said in its annual Global Employment Trends released today.

In South Asia, which includes India and other SAARC countries, the report reveals a growing gap between the situation of working women and men.

Only 36 per cent women of working age are actively engaged in the labour market, compared to 82.3 per cent of men. This is the second largest gender participation gap in the world, only behind the Middle East and North Africa, although there the gap has been narrowing much faster during the last decade, it said.

Moreover, the report points that those women in South Asia, who are in the labour force, are more likely to be unemployed than their male counterparts, and the gap is widening.

In the past decade, female unemployment rates increased from 4.9 per cent to 6.2 per cent while male unemployment rates moved from 4.2 per cent to 4.9 per cent. The overall unemployment rate in the region rose from 4.4 per cent in 1996 to 5.2 per cent in 2006.

Worldwide the 2006 (the figures are preliminary estimates) unemployment rate is 6.3 per cent, a decrease of 0.1 per cent on 2005. Even though more people in the world are working than ever before the global number of people unemployed remains at an all-time high at 195.2 million.

In terms of economic growth the South Asian Region’s overall GDP grew at a robust 7.9 per cent (although this is down from 8.2 per cent in 2005 and the rate is expected to fall again in 2007). But this growth rate is not creating enough jobs to absorb the expanding labour force, which has increased by 2.1 per cent annually over the last decade, the report said.

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Jinnah house to showcase culture
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 24
The Central Government has finally decided on the fate of the sprawling Jinnah House in Mumbai's plush Malabar Hill neighbourhood by deciding not to hand it over to the Pakistan government.

The bungalow built by Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah will house a cultural centre showcasing the art and culture of SAARC countries. According to sources here, work on renovating the bungalow will begin in February and the Centre will be open by August 15.

The building is now in the possession of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the new SAARC centre will be managed by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). The renovation project will be overseen by noted architect Sen Kapadia.

The structure is in a dilapidated condition after it was acquired by the Indian Government in 1997.

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Mirage 2000 crashes in MP

Morena (MP), January 24
A Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force, believed to be on a routine sortie, crashed at Baragaon, nearly 60 km from here, tonight, the police said.

While the fate of the pilot could not be immediately ascertained, there was no loss of life or property on the ground as the plane crashed in an agriculture field outside the village, SP Hari Singh Yadav and Gwalior Collector Rakesh Srivastav said. The aircraft caught fire immediately after crashing. — PTI

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